Canada's Condominium Magazine

With more families going condo vertical, what about the day care crisis?

With soaring prices came a shift in preference to vertical living for families. Urban planners, coping with rapid development and demographic shifts — including density issues — have to focus on transit, schools and other issues. Daycare, which hasn’t been the number one priority, has now become a crisis.

 

Daycare shortages have become critical in Toronto as populations increase, and especially with the move to vertical family living.

 

According to Statistics Canada, one-third of families with children live in high-rise environments — and growing fast.  As a result, daycare in Toronto is in shorter supply than listings for condos. Not just daycare; a shift to a denser vertical living style will mean Toronto has to plan for increased park utilization and recreational opportunities.

 

More and more families are choosing vertical living in condominiums in Toronto, putting pressure on the city to improve available daycare spaces.

 

Is daycare in crisis in Toronto?

Even the Mayor, John Tory said daycare is a crisis situation when he wrote to Ontario leader Kathleen Wynne asking for money to fund day care. With the costs of carrying a home on the rise in Toronto, it leaves many families without enough budget for daycare. Having to budget extra for daycare has become one of the many reasons people are moving to more economical condominiums. According to Sabrina Maddeaux (24 Hours):

“Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says young people need to let go of the dream of single-family homes and get used to the idea of raising children in condos.”

 

Some developers, such as Tridel are planning for families and children. Shown, the children’s play room from Islington Terrace, a community which quickly sold out.

 

That being a new reality, the shortage of daycare becomes even more critical. There are probably still more options for daycare in downtown Toronto than in some suburban areas, despite the density and increased demand — or perhaps because of the density — but that’s not saying much. Some neighbourhoods have absolutely no available daycare. Some wait lists are years long. [2] Urban planners will have to work creatively to overcome this growing issue. In a pinch, families get by, but they do it with compromises that impact their lifestyle:

  • Taking extra time off work for the children
  • Imposing on retired grandparents to step in
  • Pooling babysitters (alternating grandparents?)
  • Cutting back on other living expenses to pay for more expensive care options.

Demographic issues — big time population growth

By 2019, Toronto is projected to grow to at least 7.1 million, among the fastest growing in Canada. 8.4 percent of new immigrants to Canada settle in Toronto. [1] Nearly 20 percent of all Canadians live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

 

Vertical living is becoming the new normal for young families in Toronto.

 

Condo developers helping

Condos are increasingly family-friendly with more and more facilities oriented towards families. Communities such as Islington Terrace (by Tridel) were planned with children in mind, with amenities for kids. Needless to say Islington Terrace sold out quickly. Tridel goes as far as to state, on their Corporate Social Responsibility Report: “For Tridel, family-values are an essential core-element to the business.”

Developer self-initiative takes some of the pressure off the city, but not much. The main onus will be on City of Toronto planning to provide day care and especially subsidized day care.

 

NOTES

[1] Data from National Household Survey, Statistics Canada and Toronto Foundation.

[2] Toronto24hours.ca report “Maddeaux: Toronto Daycare in Crisis”

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